Yesterday Energy Secretary Steven Chu and I had the opportunity to talk to a number of business and government leaders at the White House about how critical it is for America to play a leading role in the clean energy economy.
Despite the headlines that focus on what other countries are doing abroad, little prevents us from taking the lead in the business of clean energy. In fact, much of the energy technology being used around the world has its roots in the United States – but companies in other countries have often taken the lead in bringing those innovations to market.
There is simply no reason why this should be. We have all the smarts and all the resources we need to build light-weight car batteries or find a cheap and effective way to store power from the wind and sun here in America – we just need the willpower to act.
China is investing over $9 billion a month in clean energy and efficiency industries – not just to meet their own domestic energy and climate needs, but to satisfy the energy needs of the entire world.
If we don’t get our act together, we're going to be watching the capital, the businesses and the well-paying jobs end up in China – rather than in communities across America. We simply cannot allow ourselves to wake up 10 years from now asking how Shanghai became the Silicon Valley of clean energy.
President Obama has asked every cabinet agency to play a role in promoting clean energy. Several agencies within the Commerce Department are playing a leading role in this effort:
- The National Institute of Standards and Technology is leading the effort to develop technical standards that will be critical to building a reliable and robust smart electrical grid. A Smart Grid will revolutionize the use of electricity – from generation to transmission and distribution to consumption.
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency is helping us measure the impact of energy use on our climate.
- The International Trade Administration is pursuing new export opportunities that could help American clean energy companies reach consumers around the globe.
- And patents and trademarks, issued by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, protect new technology and are a key factor in helping companies move their products into the open market.
Building a green economy isn't going to be easy, but if government and businesses work together, America can and will be a world leader in clean energy.
Gary Locke is Secretary of Commerce